Have you ever had a habit you really wanted to form, or just something you really wanted to get yourself to do, but you’ve struggled to actually do it?
We all have – it’s human nature. Fortunately, we have people like Stephen Guise, our guest today, to teach us strategies and “mind hacks” to overcome these obstacles.
As a blogger and author in the personal development niche, Stephen has done a lot of research to understand the way people behave and think, and he’s used this knowledge to craft ways to help us become better, more productive people.
Here’s an interesting tidbit that I found surprising (that you can read more about in the interview): One of the biggest mistakes people make is actually trying to “get motivated.”
The personal development niche is so interesting, and your blog (Deep Existence) is loaded with amazing content about improving focus, stress management, among other things. How did you originally get into the world of personal development, and what led you to blogging about it? What are you currently focused on with your online business?
I started writing about personal development shortly after I went to college 10 years ago. In the beginning, I’d write on Xanga and MySpace, and later, Facebook. About 3 years ago, I started Deep Existence because I wanted to share my thoughts with the world (not just family/friends).
I focus on creating timeless products. I just released a book about a strategy I call “Mini Habits,” and it will be as effective 200 years from now as it is today. Some of the scientific understanding we have about the brain might change, but the strategy will still work.
I’m currently creating a high quality course about the Mini Habits concept for Udemy. And I’m collaborating with my cousin, who is an actress. Our plan is to be a front runner in the inevitable education revolution. We’re making the course more engaging and interesting by using a mix of interview-style lectures, acted out examples, slides, and graphic illustrations. In combination, these will be highly educational, but bring the concepts “to life” and maintain the attention of the even those with short attention spans.
What has been your greatest success (or successes) so far?
My book, Mini Habits, has sold more than 1,000 copies in its first month, becoming an Amazon #1 best seller in two categories. Deep Existence has 3,890 subscribers, most of whom came in the last few months of 2013.
Personally speaking, my writing has been making a much greater impact in the lives of readers, which is the ultimate measure of success and the most exciting thing for me (and this also leads to long-term business success). It’s a result of becoming very results-focused rather than going for the cheap motivational article.
And I can see that Mini Habits is already making a difference too. I’m really excited to hear about the results after people have had time to implement their mini habits.
I’ve started reading Mini Habits recently, so I understand what a “mini habit” is, but for those who may not quite understand, can you give one quick example of a mini habit and why it’s so powerful?
A mini habit is a (very) small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day, so an example is doing one push-up per day. It’s powerful for a large number of reasons:
1. The “too small to fail” size enables remarkable consistency, which leads to habit formation
2. The behavior itself often grows in size due to momentum (i.e. you do more than one push-up)
3. It activates your motivation, because nothing is more inspiring than seeing yourself take action
4. It increases your self-efficacy (the belief your actions can make a difference)
5. You can pursue multiple mini habits at once because they’re so easy
6. It works every time
There are even more benefits than this, which are expounded upon in the book.
Even the most successful people have stumbled along the way. What do you consider your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
My first two years of blogging had ups and downs, but long story short, it was a big failure. I started out on fire and gained a lot of attention quickly by guest posting on Problogger.net 8 times.
Then, a spider bite sent me reeling (a failure in its own way, but another story); I stopped blogging, and lost my momentum. After 2 years and many, many guest posts, I still only had 440 subscribers. I’ve nearly quit six times.
I learned that persistence and belief in what you’re doing is imperative. I learned that when you quit, it might be one step too soon (my big breakthrough came after the closest I’ve been to quitting). And finally, I learned that in the hard times, you must remember why you got into it in the first place. I didn’t start writing to gain an audience, but to explore life through words. Perhaps it was getting back to this that carried me through the scary part and into the bit of success I’ve had since then.
Finally, I learned that people who work hard for a long time, “get lucky.” Only they know the truth about what it really takes, while everyone else tries to catch lightning in a bottle. (Hint: it takes more than one try to do it!)
General laziness and lack of focus seem to be two of the biggest productivity killers, especially with internet entrepreneurs who are just starting out and haven’t yet tasted success. When it comes to improving productivity, especially with blogging/online content creation, what do you find are the most effective strategies?
Whew, this is a huge question with a book for an answer (perhaps my next book). I’ve written a lot about focusing on Deep Existence. I’d recommend these posts…
- How To Get Focused Today In 5 Steps (a thorough plan for having focused days)
- How To Get Focused Anywhere In 5 Minutes (a quicker solution)
- How To Focus Your Mind Instantly (teaches you how to focus on demand)
- How To Stay Focused: The Four Basic Requirements (what focusing really requires)
What are your favorite online resources?
http://www.timer-tab.com/ – this is a simple timer, and the greatest productivity tool you’ll find. Start the countdown timer at 5 minutes and decide to work until it goes off. I bet you’ll work longer than that. 😉
For someone who is just starting out creating a blog or attempting to earn an income online, what advice would you offer? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
Spend 80% of your time marketing and networking in the beginning.
As for content, I like to write fewer, better, longer posts instead of a lot of mediocre/average posts. The internet is already a sea of mediocre posts. You have to produce extraordinary content to stand out. Some people do that by being funny or being shocking. I do it by offering better-researched, more effective content (in my opinion).
I probably spend 3-4x as long on most phases of my posts, and my posts are sometimes more than 4,000 words long. That’s like a short eBook!
Find a way to stand out and make your content valuable. Or if you’re selling something, make sure your customers feel like they cheated you after they consume the product. Mini Habits is $6 and it can change people’s lives permanently. That’s grand larceny!
Also, it REALLY helps if you care for reasons other than money, because that will help you withstand the tough times. Example: I lost quite a bit of money for 2.5 years, and overall, I had a great time doing it.
Finally, where can people find you online?
Book: Mini Habits (kindle/paperback)
Blog: Deep Existence
Mini Habits Video Course: Coming soon to Udemy!
Social media: See deep existence sidebar. I don’t use social media too much. I do have a blog about focusing, after all.